REPORT: Restoring America's Endangered Species for the Cost of One Cup of Coffee

Time to move away from recovery on a shoestring budget

04-10-2007 // Aislinn Maestas

MONTPELIER, VT -- Why are some endangered species in the Northeast bounding toward recovery while others teeter on the brink of extinction? According to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, the reason is simple: Not enough resources are dedicated to making recovery happen. Yet, for the cost of one cup of coffee per citizen per year, American's could meet their responsibility to restore healthy populations of wildlife and their habitats.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is understaffed, overburdened and financially encumbered," said Corry Westbrook, legislative representative for the National Wildlife Federation. "It is time to move away from recovery on shoestring budget, and begin investing in our commitment to save America's endangered plants, fish and wildlife."

"Unless we make real progress in putting threatened and endangered species on the road to recovery today, they will not be able to survive the threat of global warming tomorrow," said Peggy Struhsacker, program manager at the National Wildlife Federation's Northeastern Natural Resource Center. "Federal funding has failed to keep pace with the needs of imperiled wildlife here in the Northeast and throughout the rest of the country. Congress needs to step up and provide proper funding."

The report, "Fair Funding for Wildlife: Investing in our Commitment to Save America's Endangered Wildlife," draws a corollary between species recovery and funding. For example, species such as the Canada lynx, Karner blue butterfly and Indiana bat are showing progress in achieving their recovery goals. According to the report, this is due to a combination of proper funding and on-the-ground efforts from local landowners and conservation partners.

"Too often, it is the controversy and the not the achievements of the Endangered Species Act that get attention," said Struhsacker. "The reality is that every day, progress is being made with species like the lynx and Indiana bat. By shedding light on these unrecognized successes, we hope to inspire Congress to provide the necessary resources for restoring all of America's threatened and endangered species and the places they call home."

On the other side of the coin, some species are making little or no progress toward recovery. In the Northeast, the gray wolf continues to languish due to a lack of resources.

"Chronic under-funding of the Act forces wildlife officials to focus their attention on only a few species at the expense of many others," said Westbrook.

The National Wildlife Federation is asking Congress to provide $470 million in 2008, increasing over the next five years to $693 million, for endangered species recovery. This is roughly the cost of one cup of coffee ($1.59) per year for each U.S. citizen. This modest increase from the current $406.5 million funding level would allow the two agencies charged with recovery, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, to meet their Endangered Species Act implementation responsibilities.

The need for funding is made even more urgent by the looming threat of global warming, the report says. The effects of climate change threaten to throw a wrench in the current progress being made to restore species and habitat. For the lynx, global warming could reduce the deep snows, which the species is adapted to running on, that have blanketed Maine's north woods. Likewise, the warmer winters associated with global warming could result in warmer caves for the Indiana bat, which may lead to higher mortality rates for the species.

"Global warming will not only make recovery harder for currently listed species, but will also push new populations of species toward extinction," said Westbrook. "The plight of polar bears in the Arctic is just one example of what is to come if we do not act now. Only through a combination of reducing global warming pollution and redoubling our on-the-ground efforts to protect species will we fully preserve America's conservation legacy for future generations."

The report also highlights the important role cooperative conservation plays in achieving recovery. Oftentimes, local conservation groups, landowners and stakeholders do the heavy lifting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is unable to do.

"This past year, species like the grizzly bear, peregrine falcon and bald eagle have achieved remarkable success due to the protections they've received under the Endangered Species act," said Westbrook. "It is time Congress provide the resources needed to recover the other 1,300 listed species across America."

Read the full report

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children's future.

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Contact:
Corry Westbrook, westbrook@nwf.org, 202-797-6840

Related Resources
  • Supporting Document
    Fair Funding (pdf)

    Time to move away from recovery on a shoestring budget.

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